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Archive for August, 2009

Hikoikoi google

 

 

 

 

Who? Hikoikoi

Title: Hikoikoi
Label:
Border Music

Tell me more: New Zealand has a strong tradition of reggae, roots and dub. Over the years, while reggae in its homeland Jamaica and in places like Britain has largely become dancehall, in Aotearoa it remains fairly true to its origins, often insterspersed with soul or even jazz.

Why the fek should I listen to this? Sometimes, modern reggae falls flat because the artist is trying too hard to be faithful to Bob Marley and other legends, or, conversely, they don’t respect the music enough. But Hikoikoi sound like they have mastered their art. Every track hits a high standard, but I will reserve a special mention for Prophetless, as it tackles how the rich are made and sustain their control: “From the profit of poor nations/ You built your foundations/ Leader puppets you employed them/ Leader puppets will destroy them.”

Tena rawa atu koe Eru for allowing me to hear this and Tiki Taane’s remix album, Flux.

Or should I take it a stick to it and beat the shit out of it? As it’s one of the albums of 2009, probably not.

Trivia: Much of Hikoikoi was recorded in an isolated boatshed in Hikoikoi Reserve (where the band took their name) in Petone, north of Wellington.

 


 

 

 

Spinal Tap

 

 

Who? Spinal Tap

Title: Back From The Dead
Label:
The Label Industry

Tell me more: A pumped up to 11 special edition from rock’s most legendary legends. In 1984, the film This Is Spinal Tap was released and it was kinda  popular. This is the soundtrack, updated with six extra songs and reworkings of the others as well as an hour-long DVD featuring the ageing trio explaining the “meanings” of each track and … AND … a pop-up diorama package that unveils three 12-inch action figures along with a pop-up Stonehenge (almost actual size).

Why the fek should I listen to this? From Cups and Cakes to the misogynistic cover of Smell the Glove, the film and its accompanying soundtrack cover the Tap’s gloriously inept career and comeback tour in the USA. Morrissey or Dylan could never have written lyrics such as “My baby fits me like a flesh tuxedo/ I’d like to sink her with my pink torpedo”.

Or should I take it a stick to it and beat the shit out of it? Jesus, if you don’t like the album, or the DVD, bin them .. cos it got a pop-up diorama action package! Oh bugger, Nigel Tufnel’s got caught in my shirt sleeve.

Trivia: Early video versions of the film had a special disclaimer inserted at the end stating that the band did not actually exist, for all the very stupid people in the world.

 


 

 

 

Aleks

 

 

 

Who? Aleks and the Ramps

Title: Midnight Believer
Label:
Stomp
Tell me more:
Melbourne five-piece with one album, Pisces vs Aquarius (2007), behind them.

Why the fek should I listen to this? You’re probably familiar with Australia’s greatest musical talents – Rolf Harris, Slim Dusty, Peter Andre, the chap who plays Paul Robinson on Neighbours … but actually there’s some other guys and gals who make records. Among them The Ramps, who have a dark outlook on life (“Reading the result of your autopsy, I could swear that you were watching me”) matched by an equally dark sense of humour. And that comes out in the music on Midnight Believer, a mixture of at times uplifting indie rock, a la Walking the Garden, that has some gloriously disjointed riffs, and more sober moments, notably the first half of Circa 1992 Ideas before it suddenly becomes something of a pop song. Titles such as Destroy the Universe With Jazz Hands suggest they are either far from serious or completely bonkers.

Or should I take it a stick to it and beat the shit out of it? Midnight Believer lacks enough ideas to sustain it for a whole album, and falls flat at certain points. Maybe a mini album may have been more appropriate.

Trivia: Their website lists individual band members functions including: snoring duck, Swiss cheese and extreme wheeze.

 


 

 

 

 

Ido Tavori

 

 

 

Who? Ido Tavori

Title: Rhythm Is A Beggar
Label:
Love Poem records

Tell me more: Tavori, a British-based Israeli, is the founder of Love Poem records, an outlet for experimental, underground music.

Why the fek should I listen to this? Rhythm Is A Beggar expounds upon Tavori’s love of urban underground beats, stirring in lashings of hip-hop, downbeat and electronica. An intriguing 26-minute trawl through a genre that continues to mutate and develop.

Or should I take it a stick to it and beat the shit out of it? There are breaks in this love-in for some hip-hop lyricism which does not quite work on this kind of largely mellow and experimental album.

Trivia: Although the cover names the artist as Ido Tavori, the spine attributes the music to Ido Tavori & friends.

 


 

 

 

 

Undertones

 

 

 

Who? The Undertones

Title: An Anthology
Label:
Salvo

Tell me more: Two-disk trawl through the wonderful career of a wonderful Northern Ireland new wave band of the late 70s/ early 80s era. First disk is of singles, album tracks and b-sides. Second disk live tracks, demos, rehearsals and rough mixes.

Why the fek should I listen to this? Normally I try to avoid best ofs, but given that 27 of the 56 tracks here are from the vaults and there’s plenty of obscurities among the remainder, this is clearly an effort made with love and devotion. Also includes a neat booklet with a history lesson and details of where and when each track was recorded (though sadly not where released). Played to death by DJ John Peel, Teenage Kicks has become the girls and chocolate-fuelled adrenalin anthem for the ‘Tones but they possessed loftier ambitions and subsequently made scores of short bursts of fantastic pop classic. My Perfect Cousin may have been the first top 10 hit to mention table-football game Subbuteo.

Or should I take it a stick to it and beat the shit out of it? I was wary of the outtakes and whatever else they could find bonus disk, but I find the rough-and-ready quality of these straight-from-cassette recordings quite endearing. But I have to take issue with the chronology. Putting debut single Teenage Kicks among later, more seductive, tracks is bemusing. By the early 80s the Undertones had become more soulful, and there’s an ill-fitting feeling to those tracks following or preceeding rip-snorting punk-inspired singles.

Trivia: A reformed Undertones (minus Feargal Sharkey) sometimes play support act to a little-known outfit called Celtic FC at Parkhead these days.

 


 

 

 

Attic Dweller


 


Superbi

 

 

Who? The Beautiful South

Title: Superbi
Label:
Sony BMG

Tell me more: There are far more famous albums by the Beautiful South than this, but I chose this deliberately as it’s one of the latter works from the Hull band, released in 2006, when they’d lost their lustre and ability to sell albums by the vanload. Neither Gaze (2003) nor the collections of cover versions, Golddiggas Headnodders & Pholk Songs (2004) would be described as anything more than average.

Why the fek should I listen to this? Superbi has all the usual elements to a Beautiful South album – tales of lost and lost and the rain in Manchester. The opening track and The Cat Loves The Mouse sound like old South, catchy and captivating.

Or should I take it a stick to it and beat the shit out of it? The South were a pivotal band of the early 1990s but all albums since have struggled to match the brilliance of 0898 or Choke. The same can be said of the country-tinged Superbi but there are several highlights and it does grow after a few listens. Eight months after its release the band split up.

Trivia: In a recruitment drive reminiscent of the Human League signing up two schoolgirls after Phil Oakey saw them dance at a Sheffield disco, Jacqui Abbott was stacking shelves in a supermarket before being enlisted by Paul Heaton after he heard her sing at an after-show party.

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George Best

 

 

Football and music, three words that evoke memories of players singing out of tune and Chas and Dave being dug up ahead of a Spurs appearance in the FA Cup final. Or England Back Home, the dismal Baddiel and Skinner … the list of cultural criminality goes on and on.

Music has often used football for its ill-gotten gains and, on the other side of the coin, the sport has gotten a piggy back from the industry to promote a forthcoming tournament or boost the bank balance of a striker.

Highlights of this meeting of unlikely bedfellows have been few but New Order’s World in Motion is probably the best example of this form of the football song.

However, Porky has been snorting about and discovered the beautiful game and the beautiful sound have often mingled coherently in a lovestruck relationship.

The basis for this discovery was an album by The Barmy Army called the English Disease. Released in 1989, it sounds a little dated now, especially with tracks such as England 2, Yugoslavia 0 and a protest song against a plan in the UK to issue all football hooligans, as the then Conservative Government viewed all fans, with ID cards.

Barmy ArmyThe Barmy Army cut and paste interviews and match commentary, using them ad nauseum; expressing their love of West Ham Utd with snippets of the Hammers theme tune I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles, and songs dedicated to Alan Devonshire and Billy Bonds. On a hit-and-miss (the goalpost) album, the strongest moment is Sharp As a Needle, featuring the Anfield Kop in fine voice, a track beloved by the legendary, yet extraordinarily tedious, DJ, John Peel.

Barmy Army’s experimental dub-football crossover came at a time when indie bands in Britain found inspiration from a game which was, at the time, maligned by hooliganism and stadium disasters.
In 1987, burgeoning Yorkshire indie-wonders, The Wedding Present, looked at the sport’s glorious past, to name their debut album George Best, adorned with a picture of the Northern Irish maestro at his peak.

I, Ludicrous, graduates of The Fall school of witticism, spewed an imponderable number of football-related songs: Quite Extraordinary (piss-take of commentator/ buffoon David Coleman), and We Stand Around (about hardcore fans braving all the elements and bad players).

During this period of rampant hooliganism, one man stood up to fight the good fight, and lead the charge to rid England of the menace of the “English Disease” once and for all. Unfortunately, that man was Colin Moynihan, a short-arsed little bastard who, somehow, was appointed Minister of Sport.

The Conservative regime seemed to regard the role as no greater than the leader of a community council, and so Moynihan became the champion of British sports. I, Ludicrous penned Moynihan Brings Out The Hooligan In Me, on account of his ignorance of the game and the small matter of this bastion of the sporting spirit, running onto (invading?) the pitch when the Great Britain hockey team won gold at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. Just like a good hooligan would.

Forget that English teams were banned from European club competition on account of their naughty fans, this was when indie music fell in love with football, precisely because of its bad-boy image.

It was a time when The Housemartins named an album, Hull 4, London 0; Tackhead wrote about The Game, sampling commentator Brian Moore; and the Proclaimers reminded the world of Scotland’s love of the game with songs about Hibernian FC (Sunshine on Leith and The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues). Hell, I’ve even got a flexi disk, by an obscure Northern Irish band with a song called The Cross, that came with a Coleraine FC fanzine.

More recently, Britain’s favourite lefty, Billy Bragg, a renowned footy fan, even though he’s from Essex, issued songs such as God’s Footballer and The Few, the latter describing hooligan firms like the Inter City Crew, who were fully aware that any rampage would never be ignored: “These little John Bullshits know that the press will glorify their feats”.

Bragg famously sang, on a song called Sexuality of all things, that he had, ” an Billy Bragguncle who once played, for Red Star Belgrade.”

Ah, yes, Eastern European soccer, the true cult of the sport. And is that a Half Man Half Biscuit song I hear, perhaps I Was A Teenage Armchair Honved Fan, in recognition of Hungarian football, and subbuteo (a game also referenced by The Undertones in My Perfect Cousin: “He flicked to kick, and I didn’t know”), or demanding a Dukla Prague away kit for Christmas.

Recently, football, despite it’s invasive worldwide profile, hasn’t crossed over into music to the same extent, outwith the flurry of piss-poor singles issued in time for the start of a major tournament, using Sham 69 hits and odious comedians.

My own favourite football-related song, even if the core subject is writer Christy Brown, is the Pogues’ Down All the Days, for the line, “And I’ve never been asked, and I’ve never replied, have I supported the Glasgow Rangers,” which can mean many things to many people.

Or there’s the Suppery Furry Animals’ The Man Don’t Give A Fuck, an expletive-ridden tale of eccentric Cardiff City player Robin Friday; the Sultans of Pings’ Give Him a Ball and a Yard of Grass (“If God meant the game to be played up there, He would’ve put goalposts in the air.”; an unofficial Scottish 1998 World Cup team-up featuring the divine talents of Primal Scream and Irvine Welsh; tracks entitled Stan Bowles (The Others) and Tony Adams (Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros), although the references to those legends are fairly humdrum while Morrissey put Terry Venables on the cover of 1995’s Dagenham Dave.

And just to prove referencing football in song is not a new fad, Gracie Fields recorded Pass, Shoot, Goal in 1931. Fields was apparently a big Rochdale FC fan and even helped them out financially in rough times. Way before Elton John passed upon Watford FC.

I haven’t covered everything, how can I, and there are club/band team-ups that are actually quite good, notably Shane MacGowan and Simple Minds appearing on a charity EP, in tribute to Celtic legend Jimmy Johnstone, plenty of songs by Serious Drinking, or more from I, Ludicrous and Half Man Half Biscuit, and an obscure indie trio from Norwich who issued one single in 1991 and who’s name I haven’t made up yet, blah blah blah, but you get the bloody point.

There’s an old Scottish football song, the original dating from 1885, of which I will reprint the opening verse and chorus:

“You all know my big brither Jock

Miss-hit: Hoddle and Waddle

Miss-hit: Hoddle and Waddle

His right name’s Johnny Shaw.

Last week he jined a fitba’ club
For he’s mad about fitba’.
He’s got two black eyes already,
An’ teeth oot by the root,
Since Jock’s face came in contact
Wi another fella’s boot.

‘Cause he’s fitba’ crazy,
He’s fitba’ mad.
The fitba it has ta’en away
The wee bit sense he had.
And it wid take a dozen servants
His claes tae wash and scrub,
Since Jock became a member o’
That terrible fitba’ club”

Now, please add your own memories …

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